Following even heavier rain and flooding in the area, there will be some people with water-damaged cars. The good news is auto insurance typically covers flooded cars. The not-so-good news is it’s easy get your claim rejected if you don’t handle things correctly.
“People should notify the insurance companies of the problem before doing any work,” Karolena Serratos, owner of Professional Auto Care, said. “They shouldn’t try to rip out the carpet or try to dry out the car. The best thing they can do is take it to the shop and have the shop call the insurance company and let the insurance company come out and look at it.”
Serratos says even a small amount of water can cause major problems because there are a lot of important sensors hidden under a car’s carpet.
If in doubt, she says have your car checked out by a certified auto repair facility. Using a non-certified repair facility is risky when it comes to the complicated process of handling an insurance claim on a flooded car she said.
Insurance claims can take months to settle and require organized documentation by the facility that you’ve hired to perform the repairs. You will want a facility you can trust to bring you claim successfully through the process.
The damage may not be obvious and the insurance company is much more likely to approve your claim if you get the car check out immediately, according to Serratos.
Some people may not know that they have damage until later and that’s why there is a simple rule of thumb for getting your car checked.
“If the water got halfway or higher on the tire that’s usually the case that you need to go to the shop. More than likely they are going to pull up the carpet, make sure that any of the electrical components that are running underneath the carpet, underneath the seats, are going to be OK.”
Here’s what you can expect to pay and how you can track down where your vehicle is located.
Finding Your Towed Vehicle
Start by searching the Find My Towed Car website.
Here is a list of towed car lines for various counties:
- Houston Tow Line: 713-308-8580
- Harris County Tow Line: 713-755-6042
- Galveston County Sheriff (Galveston, Bolivar, La Marque, Texas City, Hitchcock, Santa Fe): 409-766-2322
- Galveston County Sheriff (League City, Dickinson, Bacliff, San Leon, Kemah, Friendswood, Algoa): 281-534-3515
- Montgomery County Tow Line: 936-760-5871
- Waller County Sheriff: 979-826-8282
- Brazoria County Sheriff: 979-864-2338
- Liberty County Sheriff: 912-876-2131
- Fort Bend County Sheriff: 281-341-4665
How much you can expect to pay
If your car was blocking a public roadway, it may have been towed without your consent to help get traffic moving again. If that is the case, the city of Houston sets the rates that you will be charged.
Non-consent Tow: $175.50 for the first 20 miles & 2% per mile thereafter
Daily Storage Fee: $20.21
Notification Fee: $50
The notification fee will be charged if the storage lot has to track you down to notify you that they have your vehicle after it has been there 24 hours. You can avoid this fee by finding the lot where your vehicle was towed at the city of Houston towed cars site.
Impound Fee: $20
If you call a tow truck to have your vehicle towed, the charges will vary depending on the size of your vehicle, but the state of Texas sets maximum allowable charges.
The maximum charge for a private property tow is:
- $255 for a car weighing up to 10,000 lbs
- $357 for a car weighing more than 10,000 but less than 25,000 lbs
- $459 per unit for unit for cars weighing more than 25,000 lbs., with a $900 total maximum
These are the maximum rates statewide. Lower rates may be set by local municipal or county rule.
A daily storage charge between $5 and $20 per day, or part of a day for a car that is 25 feet long or less. A VSF must charge $35 per day, or part of a day, for a car that is longer than 25 feet.
Here are some more facts about the daily storage charge:
A daily storage fee may be charged for any part of the day, except that a daily storage fee may not be charged for more than one day if the car remains at the VSF less than 12 hours. A day is considered to begin and end at midnight.
A VSF that accepts a car that is registered in Texas may not charge for more than five days of storage fees unless a notice (prescribed in §85.703 of the rules) is mailed or published. The notice is to inform the owner of the location of the car.
A notification fee: VSF may charge up to $50 for notifying you that your car is at their VSF. If a notification must be published, and the actual cost of publication exceeds 50 percent of the notification fee, the VSF may recover the additional amount of the cost of publication. The publication fee is in addition to the notification fee. The VSF may not charge a notification fee if a car is reclaimed by the owner within 24 hours or before notification is sent.
An impoundment fee: A VSF may charge a car owner an impoundment fee if impoundment is performed.
If doors, windows, convertible tops, hatchbacks, sun roofs, trunks, or hoods are broken or inoperative, materials such as plastic or canvas tarpaulins must be used to ensure the protection of the stored car.
If you feel your vehicle was wrongfully towed or that you were overcharged, you should file for a tow hearing. You have to do that within 14 days of when your vehicle was towed. Click here for detailed instructions on how to file for a tow hearing.
If you do this, you will have to pay the fees you’re charged to get your vehicle back. At your tow hearing, if the justice of the peace determines you were unfairly charged, they will order the tow company to reimburse you all or part of the money you paid.
You can also file a complaint with the Houston Police Department Auto Dealers Detail by calling 832- 394-4800. You can also email your complaint.